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mrbouffant

Cost of a new instrument

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What is the rule-of-thumb cost for a new pipe organ these days?

 

In the past I had heard £10K/stop estimate bandied around, so I am assuming therefore that a new, III/P instrument with 50 stops would be around the £500K mark.

 

Is this still a sensible estimate?

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What is the rule-of-thumb cost for a new pipe organ these days?

 

In the past I had heard £10K/stop estimate bandied around, so I am assuming therefore that a new, III/P instrument with 50 stops would be around the £500K mark.

 

Is this still a sensible estimate?

 

 

I suspect £15k or even £20k/stop would be more realistic these days. Even a modest IIP/20 doesn't seem to leave much change out of £1/2m.

 

JS

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I suspect £15k or even £20k/stop would be more realistic these days. Even a modest IIP/20 doesn't seem to leave much change out of £1/2m.

 

JS

 

John is quite right, and properly created will last life-times. But I am not of the camp which spends as much on pipes/stops as possible at the expense of the casework. As an object of beauty as well as sound it will be a piece of furniture for most of the time and thus to my mind needs care and craftsmanship in all the exterior (as well as interior) design and execution.

N

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Some prices you have over there...

I don't know a single parish in our country that could afford something like that. So I guess we must be quite happy to get pretty decent new organs (from domestic organ builders, to be exact) for some £8-9K/stop. It is of course a great pity that under these circumstances organ builders from elsewhere stand little chances of being able to contribute to our organ landscape. :D

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There is a thread already about this somewhere.

This thread some time ago mentioned 11-18k per stop. But (at the risk of offending our excellent hosts) I wonder whether the Eastern European newcomers have had any effect on this - there was a recent one on the south coast?

 

Also, some organ builders are designers and subcontract the manufacture of components - if they have no metal shop, for example, they would subcontract the metal pipework (**). If these are now available at lower cost from our EU colleagues, it might be possible to obtain an organ from a 'British' builder less expensively than before.

Of course, there are also organ supply houses in England and Germany using CAD/CAM technology to establish economies of efficiency while maintaining quality.

 

Any thoughts, anyone? Obviously, the major houses like Mander, Harrison and Willis like to present themselves as having the capability to build all the major components in house. I can't think of another engineering enterprise that still does this. Even car builders get specialists to build major components like gearboxes, seats, wiring looms...

 

(** IIRC, Schulze and sometimes Willis used Violette to make metal pipework in Victorian times, must check Bicknell.)

 

I'll get my tin hat...

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I can't think of another engineering enterprise that still does this. Even car builders get specialists to build major components like gearboxes, seats, wiring looms...

 

You mean like the ones who regularly have to recall their cars because of often dangerous faults!

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You mean like the ones who regularly have to recall their cars because of often dangerous faults!

 

Think how much better BL cars of the 70s would have been had they bought in good technology rather than spending 50p trying to improve a 60 year old engine...

 

I can buy in a Fifteenth for about £900 from the very best pipemaker I know, the only man who can keep the most finickity of clients happy for sustained periods. For that money, I can retain a pipemaker on the books for three weeks or less, assuming I've already got the space and the materials. Let's say the materials in a Fifteenth are worth a week's wages. In reeds and 8' flues it's far more of course. You need to be turning out at least 27-30 new stops a year to break even on that one tiny part of the business. And, of course, any honest mistakes in production will be rectified at your cost. Then you must send your man on trips round the world sharing and developing knowledge with others, and pay for him to have a couple of weeks holiday a year, and a pension, and national insurance. 45-50 stops a year perhaps? Get selling! And don't be the least bit surprised when you end up at £20k a stop in order to simply tread water year after year!

 

It's strange I'm this belligerent, because I frequently pour scorn on those who buy all their action bits in. Those are generally things which are not difficult to make; it's just about being careful. Pipework (metal pipework at least) is altogether another matter.

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Also, some organ builders are designers and subcontract the manufacture of components - if they have no metal shop, for example, they would subcontract the metal pipework (**)......

...Obviously, the major houses like Mander, Harrison and Willis like to present themselves as having the capability to build all the major components in house. I can't think of another engineering enterprise that still does this. Even car builders get specialists to build major components like gearboxes, seats, wiring looms...

 

Looking on the IBO website the other day for addresses of organbuilders I was surprised to find a manufacturer of luxury fitted kitchens (of all things!) listed as a company offering services to organbuilders. Even more surprised when a curious surf of their website showed photos of several cases of large and significant organs they had worked on for at least four major manufacturers (Mander, Harrisons, Nicholsons and Tickell). Their work is clearly of the highest quality if they are considered good enough to have the above names subcontract major work to. Presumably the subcontracting is done not for reasons of saving money but because they are considered of sufficiently high quality and capacity to undertake the specialist work that casebuilding requires, though it would be entirely for our hosts and others to comment on whether we are talking about the construction of an entire case or "merely" say the carving of pipeshades. I can't see any particular reason why contracting out such work should be considered less "worthy" than making the components in house.

 

Equally I wouldn't expect any organbuilders to manufacture standard pistons or ivorine drawstop heads when there are specialist companies like Kimber Allen that do so in mass production. Creating reproductions is however another matter (like the organ that I play has unusual pistons and stop bushes and would be a challenge to add any more should it ever be considered in the future).

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Looking on the IBO website the other day for addresses of organbuilders I was surprised to find a manufacturer of luxury fitted kitchens (of all things!) listed as a company offering services to organbuilders. Even more surprised when a curious surf of their website showed photos of several cases of large and significant organs they had worked on for at least four major manufacturers (Mander, Harrisons, Nicholsons and Tickell). Their work is clearly of the highest quality if they are considered good enough to have the above names subcontract major work to. Presumably the subcontracting is done not for reasons of saving money but because they are considered of sufficiently high quality and capacity to undertake the specialist work that casebuilding requires, though it would be entirely for our hosts and others to comment on whether we are talking about the construction of an entire case or "merely" say the carving of pipeshades. I can't see any particular reason why contracting out such work should be considered less "worthy" than making the components in house.

 

Equally I wouldn't expect any organbuilders to manufacture standard pistons or ivorine drawstop heads when there are specialist companies like Kimber Allen that do so in mass production. Creating reproductions is however another matter (like the organ that I play has unusual pistons and stop bushes and would be a challenge to add any more should it ever be considered in the future).

 

======================

 

 

There is a long and distinguished history of master wood-carvers making organ-cases, and if you're talking of Penny's Mill, then they are relative newcomers, but very good newcomers. They have just done the organ-case for Bury St Edmunds.

 

I've known about them for some time, because one of the partners is into horse-racing, and has a share in a horse trained by David Elsworth in Newmarket. My best mate also has horses with the same famous trainer........hence my sources.

 

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few remarkable organ cases made by master craftsmen who have done other things, including kitchen tables etc.

 

Ilkley Parish Church, W Yorks. Twin organ cases by the "Mouseman"...Thomnpson of Kilburn.

 

All Saint's, Pavement, Yorks. Twin, double faced, divided organ cases by the same carver.....absolutely beaitiful.

 

However, the best I know, is probably almost unknown, and I wish I knew the name of the carver; otherwise known as the "Owl-man," who carved a signature owl into his works. I "think" the organ case I have in mind is either at Northowram or Southowram PC, Nr. Halifax, but I've never seen finer carving on anything. It's a fair match for anything the celebrated Gibbons did.

 

MM

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Looking on the IBO website the other day for addresses of organbuilders I was surprised to find a manufacturer of luxury fitted kitchens (of all things!) listed as a company offering services to organbuilders. Even more surprised when a curious surf of their website showed photos of several cases of large and significant organs they had worked on for at least four major manufacturers (Mander, Harrisons, Nicholsons and Tickell). Their work is clearly of the highest quality if they are considered good enough to have the above names subcontract major work to. ...

 

Indeed. Penny's Mill have been supplying organ cases for some time, now - and, as you observe, to an extremely high quality.

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Guest drd

And they (Penny's Mill) repaired, by supplying new foliation inserts, to two small panels in the 1752-ish case at Chippenham (a well-known local adviser had this done) - and very fine work it has been, too.

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Think how much better BL cars of the 70s would have been had they bought in good technology rather than spending 50p trying to improve a 60 year old engine...

 

 

=====================

 

 

Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear!

 

The 'A' series engine dated only from 1951 (when BL were BMC), and the 'B' series engine started life in 1952. Both were VERY reliable engines indeed, as was the 3-Litre, 6-sylinder which powered the Austin Westminster.

 

Then there was the 4-litre, 6-cylinder which powered the Vanden Plas Princess 'R'....the 'R' standing for Rolls-Royce, who made the engine. Smooth and ultra-reliable. but thirsty.

 

Prior to the BLMC days, and the rationalisations of Sir Donald Stokes (an engineer) and Sir Michael Edwards (anything but an engineer), both Triumph and BMC had a fine reputation, while the truck and bus division were industry leaders in the field.

 

The demise of BLMC (as it became known) was entirely due to a lack of investment, the use of inferior quality Canadian Steel in the mid 1970's (rust) and the catastrophically poor quality of Lucas electrical components across the entire range.

 

Possibly the only bad engine, was that made for the Triumph Stag, which welded (not literaly) two 4-cylinder Dolomite engines together. The Jaguar 4.2 was a cheaper version of the old Jaguar 3.8, and had a few reliability problems with the cam-followers etc. The bought-in V8 which powered the Rover range, was actually an alloy-block engine designed by Buick in America.

 

Make no mistake, the BLMC engineers were EXTREMELY CAPABLE, especially in the design of four-wheel drive transmission systems. (Land Rover/military vehicles/trucks). (That's why BMW bought out Rover, incidentally).

 

Unfortunately, we were too busy making money out of North Sea Oil and pouring money into housing and public projects, to notice the effect on industrioes which badly needed investment.

 

MM (who knows about these things)

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There is a thread already about this somewhere.

This thread some time ago mentioned 11-18k per stop. But (at the risk of offending our excellent hosts) I wonder whether the Eastern European newcomers have had any effect on this - there was a recent one on the south coast?

 

Also, some organ builders are designers and subcontract the manufacture of components - if they have no metal shop, for example, they would subcontract the metal pipework (**). If these are now available at lower cost from our EU colleagues, it might be possible to obtain an organ from a 'British' builder less expensively than before.

Of course, there are also organ supply houses in England and Germany using CAD/CAM technology to establish economies of efficiency while maintaining quality.

 

Any thoughts, anyone? Obviously, the major houses like Mander, Harrison and Willis like to present themselves as having the capability to build all the major components in house. I can't think of another engineering enterprise that still does this. Even car builders get specialists to build major components like gearboxes, seats, wiring looms...

 

(** IIRC, Schulze and sometimes Willis used Violette to make metal pipework in Victorian times, must check Bicknell.)

 

I'll get my tin hat...

 

 

=====================

 

You cant compare organ-building to car-production!

 

The proper term for components being shipped here and there, across the world, is "economies of scale"....each manufacturing plant specialising in one or two important areas such as engines, floor-pans, gearboxes etc. So a manufacturer such as GM in America, design "world cars," which are then badged according to the country in which they are sold, but are essentially identical in most important respects.

 

However, don't believe for a moment that organ-builders don't do the same thing, but differently. I can think of several organs where the various bits-n-pieces were made by different builders working as sub-contractors, and lest we forget, Compton kept a number of organ-builders alive by sub-contracting work for their theatre-organs; among them Walker's.

 

In at least one recent cathedral-organ, I knew two of the people working on it who worked for another company entirely!

 

I've mentioned Schulze and Charles Brindley 'til I'm turning blue, but they shared resources and staff all the time, so it has a long history in the trade.

 

So long as the work is doen well, it really doesn't matter, and when it comes down to the wire, the company holding the initial contract also carries the responsibility for making sure that things are right.

 

MM

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=====================

 

So long as the work is doen well, it really doesn't matter, and when it comes down to the wire, the company holding the initial contract also carries the responsibility for making sure that things are right.

 

Amen to that.

 

(PS - I'd thought both the A series and B series engines had merely been light revisiting of very much older units than that?)

 

(PPS - do you really mean to suggest that nobody noticed the lack of investment in BL ('too busy to notice the effect')? Isn't that a bit of a glamorous spin?)

 

(PPPS - retires to Austin Rover Online forums)

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Amen to that.

 

(PS - I'd thought both the A series and B series engines had merely been light revisiting of very much older units than that?)

 

(PPS - do you really mean to suggest that nobody noticed the lack of investment in BL ('too busy to notice the effect')? Isn't that a bit of a glamorous spin?)

 

(PPPS - retires to Austin Rover Online forums)

 

==================

 

The older engines would have been side-valve units, but I doubt that any re-design amounted to a completely "new" engine.......evolution applies as much to engineering as it does to nature.

 

As far as a lack of investment goes, there are only two ways of turning ailing businesses around. You can invest heavily in production techniques/design/marketing strategy, or you can cut costs and rationalise: neither being mutually exclusive in the real world.

 

When BMC became BL, cost-cutting and rationalisation were the preferred methods; backed by public funding as a stop-gap measure.

 

The Japanese and Germans, (largely due to foreign investment and the Marshall plan), chose the path of investment and the development of robotic manufacturing techniques, as well as "just in time" procurement.

 

The rest is history, as BL failed to compete or offer better products than their competitors at home and abroad.

 

Still, the genius of Sir Alec Issigonis lives on, if only in the brilliant design of the now commonplace Constant Velocity joint.

 

MM

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==================

 

The older engines would have been side-valve units, but I doubt that any re-design amounted to a completely "new" engine.......evolution applies as much to engineering as it does to nature.

 

As far as a lack of investment goes, there are only two ways of turning ailing businesses around. You can invest heavily in production techniques/design/marketing strategy, or you can cut costs and rationalise: neither being mutually exclusive in the real world.

 

When BMC became BL, cost-cutting and rationalisation were the preferred methods; backed by public funding as a stop-gap measure.

 

The Japanese and Germans, (largely due to foreign investment and the Marshall plan), chose the path of investment and the development of robotic manufacturing techniques, as well as "just in time" procurement.

 

The rest is history, as BL failed to compete or offer better products than their competitors at home and abroad.

 

Still, the genius of Sir Alec Issigonis lives on, if only in the brilliant design of the now commonplace Constant Velocity joint.

 

MM

 

Not the place for this, I know, but replacing the 1100/1300 (which was glorious, much admired, and both more clever and better packaged than the Mini) with the Allegro isn't representative of cost-cutting and rationalisation, surely?

 

I'm glad there are now voices emerging (including a recent Top Gear publication) which admit that, actually, the Marina wasn't that much worse than the Cortina. It's just that it wasn't as many light years ahead of the competition as every other BMC product had been.

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26 stops at £400K = just over £15K / stop:

 

http://www.edingtonfestival.org/organ.cfm

 

Love your comments about British Leyland MM! Personally I always saw more advantage with Citroens for engineering - which was mostly the cause of their financial woes rather than underinvestment. Buy a DS or 2CV - their design is sheer genius. My Deux Chevaux has taken me all round the country. Or if you need a bargain a CX or GS are very well engineered too. I find lots of organists like classic cars - something to do ones ability to appreciate aesthetic value I think.

 

Going back to the new organ proposed for Edington - doesn't 400k look like a modest sum when you consider its sizable spec and lovely casework design? I imagine there might already be a hefty donation in the pot. Does anyone know whether it's going to be all new or are they using bits of the old instrument? Spec looks just right to me - though I'm surprised there isn't another 16' on the pedal. The old organ has a violone...

 

Anyway folks... what do you think of the idea of them commissioning a new instrument? I think it's very wise indeed. And I'm sure it will be a very successful decision. I bet the BIOS folks would like to get a Grade II listing on the old one though, as it was mostly original and in many ways a very worthy organ. It just didn't make enough sound for when the place was full in the festival and a bit more versatility for accompanying will be very welcome. The worst thing was that it was more than a semi tone sharp to my memory!

 

This is the main reason why I worry about all these BIOS certificates - when you have changing requirements and funds for a new instrument then having a historic listing getting in the way is just going to prove to be a big pain in neck. Good for Edington. I look forward to hearing the new instrument on Radio 3 when it arrives.

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==================

 

The older engines would have been side-valve units, but I doubt that any re-design amounted to a completely "new" engine.......evolution applies as much to engineering as it does to nature.

 

As far as a lack of investment goes, there are only two ways of turning ailing businesses around. You can invest heavily in production techniques/design/marketing strategy, or you can cut costs and rationalise: neither being mutually exclusive in the real world.

 

When BMC became BL, cost-cutting and rationalisation were the preferred methods; backed by public funding as a stop-gap measure.

 

The Japanese and Germans, (largely due to foreign investment and the Marshall plan), chose the path of investment and the development of robotic manufacturing techniques, as well as "just in time" procurement.

 

The rest is history, as BL failed to compete or offer better products than their competitors at home and abroad.

 

Still, the genius of Sir Alec Issigonis lives on, if only in the brilliant design of the now commonplace Constant Velocity joint.

 

MM

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My late father always bought Austin or Morris cars, and his Morris 8 lasted for 20 years before the running board fell off.

Rover cars were also excellent and it is sad that this brand name is now owned by Ford. I owned a Rover 75 which was excellent, and how I wish I could have purchased a replacement.

The problem is that there is absolutely no loyalty amongst the British people, and yet wasn't it Honda or Toyota that has had three serious recalls for faults so perhaps they are not so clever.?

I was gutted when MG ROVER went out of business with the Company being purchased by a Chinese Company.

The good news is that the Longbridge plant has partially reopened, and three new MG models are being introduced this year, and I believe that one will be a replacement for the 75( MG 3 ?)

The Chinese are banking on loyalty to the MG marque, but don't hold your breath.

Colin Richell.

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My late father always bought Austin or Morris cars, and his Morris 8 lasted for 20 years before the running board fell off.

Rover cars were also excellent and it is sad that this brand name is now owned by Ford. I owned a Rover 75 which was excellent, and how I wish I could have purchased a replacement.

The problem is that there is absolutely no loyalty amongst the British people, and yet wasn't it Honda or Toyota that has had three serious recalls for faults so perhaps they are not so clever.?

I was gutted when MG ROVER went out of business with the Company being purchased by a Chinese Company.

The good news is that the Longbridge plant has partially reopened, and three new MG models are being introduced this year, and I believe that one will be a replacement for the 75( MG 3 ?)

The Chinese are banking on loyalty to the MG marque, but don't hold your breath.

Colin Richell.

 

========================

 

 

In the interests of keeping misinformation off the board, I should point out that Honda are above reproach and they are regarded in the trade as "spot on" with everything they do.

 

Furthermore, the allegations of dangerous "faults" on certain Toyota cars, have been discounted in America. The Lexus marque (part of Toyota) is regarded as the best engineered vehicle in the world to-day by many.

 

I don't recall that BL ever recalled vehicles, when they clearly should have done a number of times!

 

Acting honourably is the other side of being loyal, I suppose.

 

MM

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My late father always bought Austin or Morris cars, and his Morris 8 lasted for 20 years before the running board fell off.

Rover cars were also excellent and it is sad that this brand name is now owned by Ford. I owned a Rover 75 which was excellent, and how I wish I could have purchased a replacement.

The problem is that there is absolutely no loyalty amongst the British people, and yet wasn't it Honda or Toyota that has had three serious recalls for faults so perhaps they are not so clever.?

I was gutted when MG ROVER went out of business with the Company being purchased by a Chinese Company.

The good news is that the Longbridge plant has partially reopened, and three new MG models are being introduced this year, and I believe that one will be a replacement for the 75( MG 3 ?)

The Chinese are banking on loyalty to the MG marque, but don't hold your breath.

Colin Richell.

 

Sadly... quality vs price was one of the reasons for Rovers demise. And the fact that that the 25 and 45 models were 10 years old by the end. I had a 25 model briefly and actually I quite liked the car. It didn't prove to be nearly as reliable as I expected, and i cursed it as a result.

 

 

One could compare the demise of Rover to that of the late, and I'm sure much missed organ firms H,N&B and R&D. Willis's made a comeback gladly. Any company which suffers a drop in quality and research and development is going to struggle. As with any firm which did great things in its day, we sorely miss the best products.

 

I was once offered a Rover P6 for 100 pounds. It wasn't all that bad either. Silly me for turning it down.

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Love my SD1. Also preparing to work on 1978 Princess. The Allegro and Princess are two of the least rusting cars from the 1970's being remarkably well designed for the time, and Leyland were still trying to innovate, but were hampered by so many things from inside and outside the company that the writing was pretty much on the wall without a major sea change in attitudes as well as money. ARONline is an interesting read on all this.

 

I still have battles with people half my age who think everything they produced was rubbish. It's nearly all based on pub knowledge and historic reputation rather than reality. Sure there was a litany of disasters like the SD1 paint shop. You might like to note that Brasilia Brown did stick unlike a lot of the other colours. Read into that what you will.

 

Anthony

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